A behind-the-scenes look at our stick insect collection

Photo Galleries | Updated 6 months ago

Two native Western Australian stick insects in their storage boxNative Western Australian stick insects; species Eurycnema osiris, family Phasmatidae; commonly known as Darwin Stick Insect
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three native Western Australian stick insects in their storage boxSpecies Eurycnema osiris. Stick insects occur all around the world in warmer zones, especially the tropics and subtropics.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A native Western Australian stick insect in its storage boxSpecies Eurycnema osiris. Australia hosts a substantial diversity of Phasmatodea with about 150 species that can be found through the country.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A native Western Australian stick insects in its storage boxNative Western Australian stick insect; species Eurycnema osiris, family Phasmatidae; commonly known as Darwin Stick Insect
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of a spread wing of a native Western Australian stick insectClose-up of a spread wing of a native Western Australian stick insect; species Eurycnema osiris, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of the head of a native Western Australian stick insectSpecies Eurycnema osiris. The antennae are segmented and covered with tiny sensory hairs.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of the head of a native Western Australian stick insectSpecies Eurycnema osiris. Antennae may have multiple functions such as smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of the head of a native Western Australian stick insectSpecies Eurycnema osiris. As we can note on this photo, some species have spines and tubercles on their bodies.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of the head of a native Western Australian stick insectSpecies Eurycnema osiris. Stick insects have palps, sensory appendages located near the mouth, used to touch and taste the food.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of the head of a native Western Australian stick insectSpecies Eurycnema osiris. With the help of their mandibles, Phasmatodea grasp and cut leaves for feeding.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of the abdomen of a native Western Australian stick insectClose-up of the abdomen of a Eurycnema osiris specimen. Between each segment of the abdomen there is a thin, flexible exoskeleton ring allowing flexibility.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A native Western Australian stick insect in its storage boxNative Western Australian stick insect; species Eurycnema osiris, family Phasmatidae; commonly known as Darwin Stick Insect
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of spread wings of a native Western Australian stick insectClose-up of spread wings of a native Western Australian stick insect; species Eurycnema osiris, family Phasmatidae; commonly known as Darwin Stick Insect
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of a spread wing of a native Western Australian stick insectClose-up of a spread wing of a native Western Australian stick insect; species Eurycnema osiris, family Phasmatidae; commonly known as Darwin Stick Insect
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A native Western Australian stick insect in its storage boxNative Western Australian stick insect; species Eurycnema osiris, family Phasmatidae; commonly known as Darwin Stick Insect
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A native Western Australian stick insects in its storage boxNative Western Australian stick insect; species Eurycnema osiris, family Phasmatidae; commonly known as Darwin Stick Insect
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of a spread wing of a native Western Australian stick insectClose-up of a spread wing of a native Western Australian stick insect; species Eurycnema osiris, family Phasmatidae; commonly known as Darwin Stick Insect
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Onchestus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxGenus Onchestus. The scientific name Phasmatodea is derived from the Ancient Greek phasma, meaning apparition or phantom. Some scientists prefer the order name “Phasmida”.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of the abdomen of a stick insectGenus Onchestus. This name ‘phasma’ refers to their ability to camouflage, mimicking the sticks, leaves and branches of their surroundings.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of the abdomen of a stick insectGenus Onchestus. Stick insects are able to mimic branches with all their features: size, nodes and leaf scars.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Onchestus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect with spread wings in its storage boxSpread wings of a stick insect which belongs to the genus Onchestus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of a spread wing of a stick insectClose-up of a spread wing of a stick insect which belongs to the genus Onchestus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Onchestus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two native Western Australian stick insects in their storage boxMale specimens of native Western Australian stick insects which belong to the genus Onchestus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of the end of a stick insect’s abdomenClose-up of the end of a stick insect’s abdomen which mimics a branch; genus Onchestus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Several foreign stick insects in their storage boxForeign Stick insects which belong to the family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three foreign leaf insects in their storage boxOther Phasmatodea are able to mimic leaves and are commonly known as leaf insects. Foreign specimens which belong to the family Phylliidae.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxSpecimen which belongs to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae. Some species are also able to match their colour with their surroundings, generally green or brown.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxGenus Tropidoderus. Their main predators are insectivorous animals such as birds, marsupials, certain rodents, praying mantises, ants, bugs and spiders.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxGenus Tropidoderus. To avoid predation most species stay motionless for hours, feigning death. This behaviour is called thanatosis.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxGenus Tropidoderus. Stick insects have nocturnal feeding habits to avoid predation and feed on leaves: they are phytophagous.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxNative Western Australian stick insect which belongs to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insect with eggs. Females can lay from 50 to 2,000 eggs depending on the species. Genus Tropidoderus.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Stick insect eggs and hatchlings in their storage boxStick insect eggs and hatchlings. Depending on the species eggs are dropped to the ground, buried or stuck on plants and hatching may occurs from one month to one year of incubation.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insect which belongs to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxGenus Tropidoderus. Phasmatodea have compounds eyes, which consist of hundreds of photoreceptor cells which allow vision in different directions.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two stick insects in their storage boxGenus Tropidoderus. In addition to their compounds eyes, they may also have simple eyes called ocelli which help in distinction of daylight from darkness.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two stick insects in their storage boxStick insect which belongs to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insect which belongs to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Several stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Detail of a spread wing of a stick insectClose-up of a spread wing of a stick insect which belongs to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Tropidoderus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Two stick insects in their storage boxGenus Tropidoderus. Phasmatodea have a hard external skeleton which prevents them from growing.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxGenus Tropidoderus. To reach the adult size they have to remove their exoskeleton by moulting, and expanding the next “layer” before it hardens. They may experience four to seven moults in their lives.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insect which belongs to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insect which belongs to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Three stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insect which belongs to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insect which belongs to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A native Western Australian stick insect in its storage boxNative Australian stick insect which belongs to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A native Western Australian stick insect in its storage boxNative Western Australian stick insect which belongs to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae, and eggs
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A native Western Australian stick insect in its storage boxNative Western Australian stick insect which belongs to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae, and eggs
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Four stick insects in their storage boxStick insects which belong to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insect which belongs to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxStick insect which belongs to the genus Podacanthus, family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A foreign stick insect in its storage boxForeign stick insect from Papua New Guinea; species Eurycantha horrida family Phasmatidae; commonly known as Spiny Devil Stick Insect
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A foreign stick insect in its storage boxTo defend themselves, these stick insects curl the abdomen upward and use spines on the hind legs to pierce the enemy. Species Eurycantha horrida
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Several stick insects in their storage boxNative Western Australian stick insects which belong to the family Phasmatidae
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Several stick insects in their storage boxUnsorted collection. Stick insects can be relatively large and reach from 1.5 centimetres to 33 centimetres in length.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Several stick insects in their storage boxUnsorted accessions. Winged species are generally longer than wingless species as their thorax houses the flight muscles.
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
Several stick insects in their storage boxUnsorted accessions received in recent years from various donors
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum
A stick insect in its storage boxA stick insect specimen from an unsorted accession collected in a Dawesville garden
Photo by Jessica Scholle, image copyright WA Museum

The Phasmatodea are an order of insects commonly known as stick insects or leaf insects which occur in warmer zones over the world. They are among the best camouflaged creatures in the animal kingdom, mimicking perfectly the leaves, branches and twigs of their surroundings. Their taxonomic classification is quite arduous due to a deficit of reference books in this field of zoology and scientific disputes remain as to their classification. Thus, among the 3,000 species known so far, lots of them have not been described yet, or just partially, and some species were classified under several different names, making them synonyms. Due to the few existing literary references, Museums’ collections worldwide constitute a significant help for Phasmatodea classification.

Through this photo gallery, explore our stick insect collection and observe their fabulous ability to mimic the vegetal world.

Further Information

If you want to learn more about stick insects visit the dedicated National Geographic web page that offers facts and a distribution map.

The scientific website Phasmatodea.com also provides information about sticks insects and thousands of photos.

Brock, P.D. and Hasenpusch, J.W. (2009) The Complete Field Guide to Stick And Leaf Insects of Australia, 204pp, CSIRO PUBLISHING